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USGA, R&A to roll out new World Handicap System in 2020



A new handicap system is here, or rather, it will be once the USGA and R&A begin to fully implement the World Handicap System in 2020.

The new system focuses on achieving three main objectives: 1) encouraging as many golfers as possible to maintain a handicap, 2) enabling golfers of different abilities, genders, and nationalities to compete fairly, and 3) determining the score a golfer is reasonably capable of shooting at any particular course anywhere in the world.

Currently there are six handicapping systems worldwide, owing to the existence of six handicapping authorities: Golf Australia, the Council of National Golf Unions (CONGU) in Great Britain and Ireland, the European Golf Association (EGA), the South African Golf Association (SAGA), the Argentine Golf Association (AAG) and the USGA.

The six handicapping authorities represent approximately 15 million golfers in 80 countries who currently maintain a golf handicap.

Under the new program, the USGA and R&A will oversee the World Handicap System and the governing bodies will be in charge of local administration.

The USGA presents the WHS as a better system that simplifies the existing structures. Not surprisingly, the organization believes the WHS will compel more golfers to maintain a handicap.

“For some time, we’ve heard golfers say, ‘I’m not good enough to have a handicap,’ or ‘I don’t play enough to have a handicap,’” USGA executive director Mike Davis said. “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”

Davis sees the new system marching arm-in-arm with the revisions to (and simplification of) the Rules of Golf.

“We’re excited to be taking another important step – along with modernizing golf’s rules – to provide a pathway into the sport, making golf easier to understand and more approachable and enjoyable for everyone to play.”

Key features of the WHS include:

  • Flexibility in formats of play, allowing both competitive and recreational rounds to count for handicap purposes and ensuring that a golfer’s handicap is more reflective of potential ability.
  • A minimal number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap; a recommendation that the number of scores needed to obtain a new handicap be 54 holes from any combination of 18-hole and 9-hole rounds, but with “some discretion available for handicapping authorities or national associations to set a different minimum within their own jurisdiction.”
  • A consistent handicap that “is portable” from course to course and country to country through worldwide use of the USGA course and slope rating system, already used in more than 80 countries.
  • An average-based calculation of a handicap, taken from the best eight out of the last 20 scores and “factoring in memory of previous demonstrated ability for better responsiveness and control.”
  • A calculation that considers the impact that abnormal course and weather conditions might have on a player’s performance each day.
  • Daily handicap revisions, taking account of the course and weather conditions calculation.
  • A limit of net double bogey on the maximum hole score (for handicapping purposes only).
  • A maximum handicap limit of 54.0, regardless of gender, to encourage more golfers to measure and track their performance to increase their enjoyment of the game.

The USGA and R&A conducted quantitative research in 15 countries around the world. 76 percent of the 52,000 respondents voiced their support for a World Handicap System, 22 percent were willing to consider its benefits, and only 2 percent were opposed.

The research also helped model the tenets of the WHS, but, as mentioned, don’t tear up your GHIN cards just yet: We’ve only just begun the two-year transition period prior to the implementation.

To provide feedback to the USGA on the new World Handicap System, golfers can email the USGA at, or see for more info.

Additionally, the USGA created this FAQ.

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  1. Wlcdrifter

    Feb 22, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    If they are going to throw out the 12 worst scores, they should throw out the best 2 scores. Unless they are tournament scores.
    Just my opinion.

  2. Peter Renggli

    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    This is the best thing you can do for anoid slow play

  3. Tom

    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    A couple of major issues exist with very active players and with players with very few rounds. The small number of score players will have a big variance in scores. The active 4 or more rounds a week players go through the motions of experimenting daily. Then when it counts don’t experiment any more. They then are known far and wide as baggers even though they put in all their scores… My suggestion is to continue to take the best 8 scores but over a larger sample of scores for the active players. They play more so they likely don’t exert the same amount of intensity when casually playing. Bet the farm on competitions.

  4. Regis

    Feb 21, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    The only suggestion I have is for the USGA to provide a service (for a fee) so as to allow golfers to maintain a handicap directly with them. If you don’t belong to a club, association, or play one course regularly (assuming they provide a service) it’s difficult to maintain a handicap. I have a number of friends who play all over and that’s the reason they can’t maintain a legitimate USGA handicap

  5. Laurie Blundell

    Feb 21, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    a 54??? Must be a misprint. Maximum double bogey would mean maximum 36…which is BAD enough!

  6. peter collins

    Feb 21, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    “We want to make the right decisions now to encourage a more welcoming and social game.”
    I will not welcome a 54HCP player to my round of golf, i for one, will NEVER go round with a 54 HCP.Make them take lessons and get a decent HCP before mucking up my round of golf.
    This is the worst backward step i have ever heard of.
    Keep the Hcp system as it is, just introduce the slope system.

    • David R

      Feb 21, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      If a 54 handicap is the average of your best 8 rounds from the last 20, then you have no business being on a golf course let along getting a handicap.
      Max handicap should be 24, not 54.

      • Jason

        Feb 21, 2018 at 4:12 pm

        How can it be higher than 36 if double bogey is going to be the max score for cap purposes???

        • Daniel

          Feb 21, 2018 at 6:08 pm

          Perhaps re read the article.. 54 holes of golf to obtain your handicap, which australia already do but others dont. Nothing to do with max scores at all.

  7. GMatt

    Feb 21, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I’m curious as to how they are going to calculate based on weather conditions. Are you going to have to enter temperature, relative humidity, and wind speeds when you enter your scores?

    But then again when the USGA is involved, everything is clear as mud….

    • David R

      Feb 21, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      I read they would take all scores posted from your course that day and use some kind of algorithm to figure out how well you scored relative to everyone else. If scoring was tough, your score would be reflective of conditions.
      Good idea I would say.

      • Jason

        Feb 21, 2018 at 4:14 pm

        Good idea… sounds like a mess..

        I think they should have weather days.. Like level 1,2,3,4 or something. and you can that maybe times your score by a factor for each level.

        Each day the course sets the level of weather.

        • OninTwoDowninOne

          Feb 21, 2018 at 5:57 pm

          No, David R.’s statement is better than “weather days”. It’s almost like a “strength of course” rating and as such already has weather and course conditions baked in.

    • Jack Nicholas

      Feb 27, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Spot on comments. The R&A should be the one and only body for world golf. Let the US loose on anything and they have to create something different just to be different.

  8. the dude

    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:25 am

    max handicap of 54……LOL!!!

    • James T

      Feb 21, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Please, please, please don’t pair me up with a 54!

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Grow the game: Women’s Golf Day is back for 2018



Women’s Golf Day wants to make 2018, its third annual event, the biggest and best yet. WGD is hoping golfers, male and female alike, will encourage their home courses to get involved and host an event.

Women’s Golf Day is a one-day event that utilizes the combination of golf. and the unique socialization opportunities it affords, to introduce women and girls to the game of golf.

The 2018 edition of WGD will take place June 5, as announced by Annika Sorenstam at the PGA Show in Orlando.
Since the inaugural WGD in 2016, the event has grown from 485 locations in 28 countries to 711 locations in 46 countries last year

“Women love to share their interests with their friends and family which is why we are encouraging existing golfers to encourage their Clubs to get involved. The feedback we receive from participating facilities is really positive because Women’s Golf Day gives them the tools to reach potential new female golfers in a really effective way,” explains WGD Founder Elisa Gaudet.

Information about Women’s Golf Day sign up and location registration can be found here.

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Tour News

Tony Romo cards opening-round 77 in first PGA Tour start



Tony Romo shot a 5-over 77 at the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.

The former Dallas Cowboys quarterback bogeyed the par-4 13th. He double bogeyed the par-5 14th. He bogeyed 15. He bogeyed 16. That’s 5 over in a four hole stretch.

If you’re tallying at home, however, you realize Romo was even par for the rest of his round. Indeed, after opening with back-to-back bogeys, he birdied the fourth and fifth holes to get back to even par. He was even through 12 holes, in fact. All of which is pretty good for a scratch-golfing former football player.

Here’s a long putt for par from Romo at the sixth.

Talking about his poor back-nine play, particularly wayward tee shots at the 15th and 16th holes, Romo said.

“I hit two poor tee balls. Just didn’t commit to it, and ultimately just got put in a tough spot where you’re just trying to make par. I hit a lot of good shots, and they ended up a couple times in some poor spots. But you learn the golf course as you play it throughout the week.”

“I really hit some good shots, and I’m close. I had a chance to be under par pretty easily there for a while, and then two or three shots on the back nine cost me. But that’s golf.”

Romo teed it up as an amateur partner at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February. He competed in the Western Amateur last spring, missing the 36-hole cut. He has thrice tried his hand at qualifying for the U.S. Open and most recently teed it up in a North Texas PGA Players Tour event earlier this month, where he withdrew during the second round having posted an opening-round 81.

Romo tees off for his second round at 1 p.m. ET Friday.

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Tuesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play



GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

Like all WGC events, the best golfers in the world are in the field, so we’re capturing plenty of interesting shots of the biggest names in the game (and what they’re playing). From Tuesday’s preparations, we have one general gallery, a look in the bags of Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, among others, Jason Day’s new Nikes, and an in-hand look at Rory McIlroy’s new flatstick.

Check out a curation of some of the most interesting shots from Tuesday in Texas.

Kevin Chappell’s giraffe headcover is a member of Arnie’s Army

Jon “Rahmbo” Rahm’s Hi-Toe wedge

Phil Mickelson’s PM Grind 2.0. Is a sequel coming to retail?

Jason Day’s new Nikes. Love ’em or hate ’em?

Dustin Johnson’s putter cover is an homage to his father-in-law-to-be

Pat Perez’s bag is singularly murdered out

Rory McIlroy’s new TaylorMade Soto putter/magic wand

Alexander Levy eschews last-name stamping for first name (just like the owner of the putter above)

Phil Mickelson’s Rogue Sub Zero looks like it has some extra weight at the bore thru point

Branden Grace with Odyssey’s Open Championship putter cover from last year

Check out all our photos from Tuesday below!

Tuesday’s Photos

Special Galleries

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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19th Hole